Two things happen in the first week back to work after Christmas. Thing one is that people phone divorce lawyers. Thing two is that they apply for jobs. The Monday of the first week back to work after Christmas is the busiest time of the year for the purveyors of marital breakdown. That same Monday has also been designated 'national job hunt day' according to the Financial Times.
You may not want to get divorced, but if you haven't done so already, should you apply for a job this week? Herd behaviour says you should. "On Monday January 7th we had four times the number of hits we usually get on our website," says Logan Naidu, Chief Executive of Dartmouth Partners. "There was also a bit of a spike over the weekend," he adds.
Trevor Symons, a senior recruitment consultant specialising in risk jobs at recruiters Oliver James Associates, confirms the uptick, although says it's been somewhat less dramatic. "As the return to work approaches people start to get feelings of dread if they are fundamentally unhappy with their job. We've had a 20% increase in applications this week compared to December," he tells us.
Our own figures suggest a marginally higher interest in job searching this week compared to December, although it can't be described as a paradigm shift: visits to eFinancialCareers were up 10% on Monday 7th January compared to the Monday 10th December.
So is it worth putting your CV out and about now? Or should you sit back, take stock, and wait until your bonus manifests itself?
The head of recruitment at one international bank says there is nothing to be lost by testing the water immediately. "It would be short-sighted to wait until bonuses have actually been paid in January and February before applying for jobs," he says. Moreover, the expectation seems to be that this year - for the first time in a while - there will actually be considerable movement after bonus time. For this reason, you may want to apply early.
"The problem in 2012 was that bonuses were poor everywhere and there seemed no reason to move on in search of better pay," says Symons. "We're expecting more variation in bonuses this year and people can be expected to arbitrage that," he says. Jon Terry, a partner in the reward and compensation practice at PWC is predicting that bonuses will fall by 20% at US banks for 2012 and by up to 40% at European banks. If he's right, movement from European to US banks seems a likely result. In a sign that disgruntled bankers are willing to move, RBC Capital Markets paid its bonuses in December and promptly lost Natasha Brook Walters, its global head of FX sales, John Greenslade its head of fixed income and currencies for Europe and Diego Megia, an MD in rates trading, all of whom we understood left voluntarily. RBC confirmed their departures, but declined to comment further.Recruiters say the job market is more buoyant now than it was in January 2012. There's certainly much better job flow now than there was this time last year," says Symons. "And we're expecting this to be boosted by increased turnover and restructuring after bonuses."
Naidu says there are already shortages of junior M&A bankers who still want to do M&A: "A lot of junior M&A professionals seem to have left for private equity, hedge funds and corporates," he says.
2013 is unlikely to be a year of massive hiring, though. Deutsche Bank analysts are predicting that banks will cut another 7% of their staff in the next 12 months. "We are expecting a year of execution, rather than expansion," adds the head of recruitment gloomily. This being the case, you may want to apply soon.